Brake Fern Care Guideline: 25 Tips You Should Know

Brake Fern - featured

Let's grow together!

Sprucing up your interior space comes easily with the help of the Brake Fern. It is an easy-to-care-for plant, making it an excellent option for many indoor gardeners.

In this post, we’ll provide all the tips and tricks to help out with your care for your Brake Fern and keep it well-nourished.

We also have exciting options to explore if you’re looking to buy one for yourself. If you want to learn more about Pteris’s background and growth behavior, keep reading.

What Is Brake Fern?

The Brake Fern (Pteris Cretica) is also known as the Table Fern, Cretan Brake Fern, and Dish Fern.

Although approximately 300 species of Pteris ferns exist, the Brake fern is the most popular and frequently cultivated Pteris fern.

This decorative fern is an exciting plant well-known for its dark green, feather-like fronds, making it a terrific addition to any brightly lit room. The fronds are somewhat brittle, but it doesn’t make this plant any less beautiful.

There are wide fern varieties with this cultivar with similar characteristics and care requirements. Some of the most popular ones are:

Pteris Cretica Albolineata – has beautiful variegation with creamy white stripes down the center of its fronds

P. Cretica Cristata has frilly tips and long, slender leaflets

We will mainly talk about the ideal conditions when caring for the Brake Fern indoors, but it can also be grown outdoors in hardiness zones 9-12.

Brake Fern Origin And Family

Table Fern belongs to the Pteris genus in the Pteridaceae family. Natively, it’s from the rainforests of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Members of the Pteridaceae family do not produce flowers as they reproduce by spores. These spores are contained in sori or “fruit dots,” and they appear as dark spots on the lower surface of the fronds.

Where To Buy

Brake Ferns are relatively affordable, starting from $15 for 6-inch potted plants.

The Brake Fern is available for sale on Etsy, which is one of the most reliable websites for online plant purchases. Now, the majority of our interior plants are purchased here.

Brake Fern Plant Size

When grown indoors, the Brake Fern grows to a height of 1-2 feet and spreads to a width of 1-2 feet. It grows slowly and thrives near an east or west-facing window.

Brake Fern Care Needs

Your Brake Fern will grow well when it’s properly taken care of. Known for its feather-like fronds, this plant loves humidity and needs moist soil to stay healthy.

It is ideal for watering this plant when the uppermost inch of the soil feels dry. Water deeply, allowing it to flow through the pot’s drainage hole. In terms of light, this exciting plant needs bright indirect light to reach its maximum growth potential.

For more specific tips, check out the detailed care guide below!

Brake Fern Care Difficulty

Like many plants from the Pteris genus, the Brake Fern is easy-to-care-for in most situations – if you give it the proper amount of light and well-draining soil. With this Table Fern guide, you can quickly grow this remarkable plant.

Brake Fern Growth Rate

The Dish Fern plant grows indoors to 1-2 feet. It grows the fastest during spring and summer.

Most Pteris species, including the Cretica, have a slow-growing speed.

Brake Fern Potting

In terms of potting container size, we recommend using a medium container. Most materials, including plastic, terracotta, or clay, will work perfectly.

Table Fern is susceptible to root rot. Make sure to use enough drainage holes in its pot.

Brake Fern Repotting

Expect to repot the Table Fern if you find roots growing out of the drainage holes and when the pot gets too crowded. Based on experience, this plant prefers to be pot-bound and grows relatively slowly, so expect to repot every 1-2 years.

When repotting, keep the crown of the plant above the soil line. Give your Pteris refreshed nutrients by adding standard commercial potting soil – instead of reusing the old medium. Do not press down the soil when you repot; this fern likes air around its root system.

Brake Fern Soil

For the Cretan Brake fern, standard commercial potting soil is suitable. Add components such as a peat-based mixture to make your soil mix. Keep in mind that this plant prefers an equally moist growing medium.

Make sure your chosen soil type accommodates good drainage and aeration so the roots can breathe better.

We recommend the following potting mixes:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $16.71 ($0.04 / Ounce)
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture 8-Quart Black Gold 1310102 Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $13.99 ($0.05 / Fl Oz)
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix Miracle-Gro Potting Mix $37.20
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quarts | The Hydroponic City Stake $23.99 ($0.06 / Fl Oz)

Brake Fern pH

Your Dish Fern likes neutral soil, meaning you should keep the pH level at 6.5-7.5. If you’re concerned about acidity, you can acquire a simple pH testing tool to examine your soil.

Regulate excessive pH levels on your soil with sulfur or aluminum sulfate. Improve low pH levels by adding baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash.

Brake Fern Water

Table Fern is a humidity-loving plant that needs equally moist soil throughout the year.

Water your plant in the spring and summer when the uppermost inch of soil feels dry. Until excess water leaks out of the opening at the bottom of the plastic, terracotta, or clay pot, deeply drench the soil. To prevent root rot, soggy soil, and other illnesses, pour the water out of the collection tray if you’re using one.

You won’t need to water as frequently in the winter. You should still deeply water your plants but do it occasionally.

Brake Fern Light

Pteris Ferns prefer bright indirect light. Remember, you’re trying to recreate its growing conditions in the rainforests of Europe, Asia, and Africa. For best results, positioning this plant near a window that’s east or west-facing works well in most situations.

You’ll know your Brake Fern is getting too much light when its fronds will get scorched. On the other hand, its beautiful leaves will droop if it doesn’t get enough light.

Avoid putting your Brake Fern in direct sunlight, as this could severely damage or even kill it.

Brake Fern Fertilizer

Like people, plants require more food during active growth since they are using a lot of energy. The Cretan Brake fern often has this growth spike in the spring and summer. You can use a water-soluble fertilizer once a month during this period.

Since plants’ roots often fall dormant in the winter because of the cold, it’s not necessary to fertilize. They won’t require additional food for development as a result.

Propagating Brake Fern

It is possible to propagate a Table Fern with the proper methods. Here are various techniques for propagating this remarkable houseplant.


A Dish Fern can also be propagated by dividing the clusters of stems with entangled root systems. You can propagate this plant simultaneously when you repot during its growing season.

1. Dig up. Using your small shovel, tap on the sides of the pot to loosen the soil. Gently tug at the whole plant until it comes out.

2. Separate. You should be able to see the natural boundary of each stem. Separate them using your hands or a sharp knife. You may need to cut the roots but make sure not to disrupt the main root balls.

3. Repot. Repot the sections in smaller pots filled with the soil they’re used to.

Humidity And Aeration for Brake Fern

Brake Fern is an attractive perennial that prefers high humidity – often between 50% and higher.

If the tips of your plant’s leaves are beginning to brown, take these measures into account to raise the humidity:

• Put your indoor plants together to form a humidity bubble.

• Consider purchasing a humidifier.

• Put your pots on a water-filled pebble tray. Your plant will be surrounded by vapor as a result.

• Mist your plant occasionally to avoid risks of spreading fungi.

Brake Fern Temperature

The ideal temperature range for your Dish Fern is 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. This great houseplant will appreciate being kept in warm temperatures.

More importantly, ensure you avoid any abrupt spikes or decreases in temperatures. Avoid watering your plant using cold or hot water so its roots won’t go into shock. Avoid placing this plant near vents where cold drafts and dry air can get in.


Some experts and gardeners believe this plant can be toxic when ingested long-term. However, there’s no official ruling yet, on whether this plant is indeed toxic.

While children and pets won’t be poisoned by Cretan Brake fern, it is still best to err on caution and keep this plant away from your little human and furry friends. After all, the fronds of this plant are brittle and sensitive. It is best left alone and untouched if you want to keep a happy and healthy plant.

Toxic To Pets? Care Specifics
Botanical Name Brake Fern
Common Name Table Fern, Cretan Brake fern, Dish Fern
Plant Family Pteridaceae
Origin Europe, Asia, and Africa
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape feather-like
Leaf Color dark green
Recommended Home Placement near an east or west-facing window
Growth Rate slow
Light bright indirect light
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water when the top inch of soil feels dry.
When To Fertilize once a month during growing season
Preferred pH 6.5-7.5
Humidity Range 50% and higher
Toxic To Pets? No
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, fungus gnuts, white flied, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, aphids, mealy bugs, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems for Brake Fern

The Brake Fern is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some common diseases, problems, and pests, along with how to treat them.

Spider Mites

Sadly, spider mites are extremely common, and Dish Fern is especially susceptible. Tiny brown or yellow areas that have been harmed by spider mites can be seen on the plant’s leaves. When the infestation is bad, you could also notice fine silk webbing.

Start by giving your Dish Fern a thorough watering using a pressure sprayer or the nozzle on your sink. The spider mites are expelled from the plant as a result. You should use an organic pyrethrin spray if the first approach doesn’t work.

The release of ladybugs in your indoor growing area can lower spider mite numbers if you want a more natural method. The “Spider Mite Destroyer” beetle is another species that may be difficult to find, but its name speaks for itself!

Fungus Gnats

The larvae of fungus gnats, which are small insects, consume fungi and other decomposing organic matter in the soil. The bad news for your table fern is that as the larvae population explodes, they also consume the roots of plants.

Hydrogen peroxide instantly kills fungus gnat larvae, making it a quick and simple solution to get rid of them. Spray a mixture of four parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide on your Table Fern soil.

There are various products available in the market that cater to either the larval or adult stages, although both are beneficial. You should be able to eliminate these bothersome plant insects in a few weeks if you focus on one stage of their life cycle and apply it often.

White Flies

Whiteflies are small, triangular, grayish-white insects that resemble miniature moths when they fly. By consuming the Table Fern’s sap, they can seriously harm the leaves.

It is possible to vacuum off whiteflies and their eggs, but make sure you remove your vacuum bag outdoors before the bugs have a chance to proliferate.

If there is a serious infestation, sprinkle horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soap on the leaves. The eggs, larvae, and adults will be coated by these materials, which will kill them. Apply the recommended treatment again as necessary.

Scale Insects

Even though adult scales are dormant and coated in a waxy layer, they can give birth to small crawling insects.

You may remove armored scales, but you must do so carefully using your fingertips or an old ID card. Be careful not to tear your Brake Fern’s leaves.

Apply insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil to eradicate scale insects. When you see crawlers that are active, spritz your plant with a general pesticide. Repeat the procedure with a second application a week later. Here are some products we recommend:


Aphids are tiny insects that will suck the sap of your Cretan Brake fern. Aphids come in both crawling and flying varieties. Among many other colors, they may be found in brown, black, red, green, and white.

Aphids can be seen on the underside of pinnate fronds, on unfurling shoots, and on sensitive stem sections. Act swiftly if you see these insects (which are generally in a group) to prevent them from spreading to other houseplants!

Put a plastic bag over the soil first. After that, thoroughly wash your plant with soap and water. To make sure all surfaces are coated, you may even use a sponge. After cleaning, keep your plant alone in a cool, shady place with excellent airflow to prevent soap burn on the foliage.

If the aphids come back, spray your Cretan Brake fern with neem oil, horticultural oil, or rubbing alcohol. Remember to dilute these products first.


Mealybugs may infest your Dish Fern. Take immediate action to stop the spread of these small parasites as soon as you notice their white “fluff.”

Take a cotton ball and soak it in rubbing alcohol to get started. Remove all visible mealybugs by wiping your Pteris’ leaves.

In addition, you can combine ten drops of liquid soap, 500ml of water, and 5ml of neem oil (as an emulsifier). Spraying this mixture on your plants once a month will make your plant leaves look shiny and clean and discourage mealies from colonizing your houseplant.

Brown Leaf Tips

Low humidity, underwatering, root damage, and compacted soil are all potential causes of brown leaf tips on Table Ferns.

On occasion, flushing the soil with water for a few minutes may be necessary to remove extra minerals, salts, fertilizers, and pesticides. If your plant is in a container with drainage holes and you have a fast-draining substrate, you shouldn’t be concerned about unintentionally soaking its roots.

Drooping Leaves

A wilting, droopy appearance on your Brake Fern signals distress. Overwatering, underwatering, excessive light exposure, insufficient light, and low humidity are all potential reasons for drooping leaves.

Yellow Leaves

Cretan Brake fern yellowing leaves can be brought on by a variety of factors, including inadequate or excessive light, overwatering or underwatering, nutritional shortage, excessive fertilizing, recently disturbed roots, variations in temperature and humidity, the presence of pests, and many more.

Don’t worry if you’re confused! Even seasoned gardeners continue to learn new things every day since gardening takes trial and error to determine the perfect conditions for your plants.

In order to prevent the plant from wasting energy attempting to “rescue” the leaf and instead focusing on delivering nutrients to new leaves, it is typically advised to cut off yellowing leaves.

Root Rot

Root rot is a common killer of Dish Fern. The rotting starts at the roots and quickly spreads to the stem and foliage. Remember, you should only water when the upper inch of soil feels dry.

Another cause of root rot is poor drainage in the soil. This remarkable plant requires standard commercial potting soil that stays evenly moist.

Other things you can do to avoid root rot include: drilling holes at the bottom of your pot, choosing high-porosity materials such as terracotta and unglazed ceramic planters, and lengthening the gap between watering schedules.

Similar Plants to Brake Fern

Love Table Fern? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:

Indoor Fern – Popular and simple to maintain, this ornamental plant is prized for its capacity to purify the air in addition to its eye-catching beauty.

Asparagus Fern – Despite its name and appearance, this plant is not a real fern. It’s a flexible, lovely creeper that will thrill you with its lace-like leaves and white blooms that yield red berries that draw birds. So many lovely qualities in such a little package!

Boston Fern – A classic tropical houseplant that looks good anywhere. You can hang it, place it on table tops, and fill any space with this lush plant; no matter how you use it, it’s sure to bring charm to your place.


With its feather-like fronds, Brake Fern is a lovely ornamental plant that looks stunning indoors. Following our care instructions, you’ll have no trouble growing this plant!

Have you got a Table Fern? We want to see it! Please submit photos to [email protected] so we can share them on our blog.

Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

Let's grow together!

Brent Hellendoorn

Brent is excited about all things minimal, and thus environmentally sustainable. From kitchen-scrap composting to indoor herb gardens and air-purifying houseplants, he enjoys continual learning and innovation. In simple, eco-conscious living, there is always room to… grow!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

© 2023 Copyright Two Peas In A Condo

Use code TWOPEAS to get $150 off a Gardyn and membership here.